Green sea turtles are listed as “endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Hawksbill turtles, on the other hand, are “critically endangered.”
However, good news is, their population living in and around Hawaii and American Pacific islands looks to be increasing in numbers in recent years.
Scuba diving researchers circumnavigated about 53 islands throughout the United States Pacific from 2002 to 2015, and conducted surveys to know more about the turtles’ ocean habitats. Through this, the researchers managed to count more than 3,400 sea turtles, 90.1 percent of which were green sea turtles, while the 8.3 percent were hawksbills and 1.6 percent was unidentified.
According to their report in PLOS ONE, it shows that the population of green sea turtles over the course of 13 years grew by an average of eight percent per year.
“From a conservationist’s point of view, that’s pretty phenomenal,” Rusty Brainard, co-author of the report and an oceanographer based in Honolulu, told local media. He supervises the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s coral reef ecosystem program.
The species’ numbers are slowly growing in Hawaii and some Pacific islands over the last two decades, but scientists are yet to know more about how hatchlings make it out into the ocean after they leave their “sandy cradles.”
The researchers mentioned that most marine animals face threats and perils out in the ocean, including global warming, overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution. For example, Hawaii’s east island, which is an important nesting site for green sea turtles, had submerged after the Hurricane Walaka.
“But at least – thanks to protections under the Endangered Species Act – they are no longer harassed or harvested for consumption,” Brainard said.